“Guys and Dolls” opened in November 1950 and has been a staple of American musicals ever since. The College Light Opera Company put its own stamp on this Broadway classic Tuesday night, July 19, and it is a fun show.
The house was packed to witness again the world created by writer and journalist Damon Runyon, transported to stage by the music and lyrics of Frank Loesser and the book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows and brought to life again in Falmouth by stage director Jacob Allen, music director Beth Barrier, and the rest of the multi-talented CLOC troupe.
The plot centers on the love stories of two professional gamblers, Nathan Detroit (Samuel deSoto) and Sky Masterson (Benjamin Dutton) and their gals, songstress Miss Adelaide (Samantha Kronenfeld) and Salvation Army Sgt. Sarah Brown (Sarah Polinski), respectively. The subplot revolves around whether there will be a floating crap game in that part of New York.
I thought that all the principals did a fine job of singing and acting. Of the two couples, I would say that Sarah and Sky projected more chemistry than Nathan and Adelaide, but that is a minor quibble. There were some particularly fine duets between each: Sky and Sarah in “My Time of Day/I’ve Never Been in Love Before” and Nathan and Adelaide in “Sue Me.” Sarah Polinski has a particularly fine voice that was evident throughout the play, and it blends well with Benjamin Dutton’s. Samantha Kronenfeld had more challenging songs to get across; for the most part, she conveyed the quirky, “dumb blonde” character of Adelaide, but sometimes she was hard to understand. And that’s too bad, because one of the joys of this play is its lyrics. Her dancing and that of the Hot Box Girls was spirited.
The set was wonderful and the costumes and makeup superb. I particularly liked how set designer Joshua Warner created a part of New York with the steel beams and girders. Then by raising or lowering the set pieces, the characters were transported to a café in Havana. The lighting design by Christopher Gilmore contributed to the visual impact of the set by using the scrim to create dramatic silhouettes.
The group numbers were wonderful, especially “The Oldest Established” and “Guys and Dolls.” The choreography was good; sometimes the stage seemed incapable of holding them all. But it did, and the numbers were energetic. And when the voices blended, it was wonderful…particularly the trio of “Fugue for Tinhorns” with Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Zach Holden), Benny Southstreet (Kyle Becker) and Rusty Charlie (Matthew Peckham), followed up by “Follow The Fold” with Sarah Brown and her mission band. Among the second act highlights was “Take Back Your Mink” sung by Adelaide and the Hot Box Girls. Zack Holden was particularly strong in the second act with “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” In fact, everyone added their energies and talents to that iconic song. I loved it.
The orchestra was superb, and its accompaniment blended well with the voices and often underscored or advanced the action on stage. For example, when Sarah Brown was not so successful in saving souls on the street, the music echoed their disappointment and in “The Crapshooters Ballet” it punctuated and emphasized the movements on stage.
The only thing I noticed that could be tweaked was in the scene changes. The timing of moving parts of the set was off the mark. And in the first act, when Samantha Kronenfeld sings “Adelaide’s Lament,” it was distracting to have people on stage taking away some of the furniture for the next scene. What’s odd was that it did not seem as disruptive in her reprise in the second act.
I think it’s a wonderful production. So get up to Highfield Theatre with your guy or doll, and you’ll have a good time. The show runs through Saturday, July 23. Evening shows are at 8 o’clock. There is a Thursday, July 21, matinee at 2 PM. The theater is at 58 Highfield Drive. Tickets are $36 per person. The box office is open Monday through Saturday, 10 AM to 5 PM.